V.P. Joe Biden and V.P. Candidate, Paul Ryan - Ryan Wins Over Independents - image: Salon.com
The 2012 Vice Presidential Debate held last night in Danville, Kentucky between Vice President, Joe Biden and GOP Vice-Presidential Candidate, Congressman Paul Ryan has been considered a draw by the U.S. media. A CNN/ORC poll taken immediately following the debate indicated the following:
The polling sample used was smaller than average at under 400 surveyed, and CNN indicated that CBS polling gave Biden by a large margin, however, one might suggest it depended a great deal on the make-up of the viewership, and how each individual saw the exchange. From this perspective, Biden came across as more aggressive in answering questions, and, as one CNN Focus Group participant suggested (paraphrasing) following the debate, “he did better than Obama in the last debate” (which gave him the win for that man). On the flip side, Ryan came across as confident on the one hand, while being respectful of the office of the V.P. when Biden repeatedly interrupted Ryan, and allowed Biden to get away with a lot more than time, most likely allowed for Ryan to rebut. In total, it appeared to be a draw for both, a draw whereby the base on either side of the aisle would feel that their candidate won. That said, it was the independents who should have been the focus and that has not been discussed at any great length. Those watching CNN (chosen over other networks as it is not perceived to be either left or right, as in the case of MSNBC or FOX and for political junkies, has all the bells and whistles) were able to watch a focus group react to the debate in real-time. This focus group was made up of independents, using the usual dial approach, made up of male and female respondents. (The aforementioned is one of the bells and whistles.) Overall, the line was up over the bar whenever Vice President Biden spoke about appealing to the “middle-class”, however, as soon as he turned to campaign mode, it plunged, while Ryan enjoyed a steady stream of positive to flat when explaining issues, and had more ups than downs than his opponent. What was most interesting was that the females appeared to respond more positively to Ryan than to Biden.
It is the practice of rating on performance and points, and for that Ryan gets the nod for the win overall. He was not overly aggressive with Biden, nor the moderator, while Biden clearly was agitated and bombastic when asked questions that made him obviously uncomfortable, specifically the issue with the Libyan embassy attack. He answered the questions posed as clearly as possible, with the exception of one, and that was the challenge by the moderator to both men that they tell the voting public what each would personally bring to the office. Biden used the time to attack the Romney Campaign and Ryan defended Romney as well as reiterated the campaign messaging. Although neither candidate gave a direct answer, Ryan may have been able to define his relationship to those in his district and suggest that his bi-partisanship and record proved him the better V.P. That said, it is easy for anyone, the pundit or the opinionated, to “Monday-morning quarterback”. What to take away, Ryan won on points in the debate arena, not on “feelings”. Although others, (a conservative, a Democrat-liberal-turned independent and a staunch, right-leaning Republican) – all felt otherwise and gave the nod to Ryan overall. Granted that is an extremely small sample, but it does indicate that four people watching the same debate on different networks come away with a different point of view. Given the CNN after poll and the CNN real time independent polling, one would think that Ryan gave a bonus to the Mitt Romney team by appealing to more Independent voters than Biden. The polls taken over this weekend, however, are likely to indicate a total draw.
Worst moment for Biden: Looking into the camera and asking the public “Who are you going to Trust?”, Best Moment, speaking about Scranton and the middle class background. Ryan, steady, no one particular moment that was a negative, overall he appeared confident, if, and this is a note, he did appear on edge (either that or the man was extremely thirsty). Best moment for Ryan: his closing statement. It was that last statement that gave clarity and made the absolute difference clear between both camps. Biden’s laughter also was a bone of contention for some, however, one must understand that he had to appear more aggressive, the pressure was on from the Campaign to be aggressive, and he most decidedly overdid it, perhaps not for the base, but the base does not win an election.
The next debate is this coming Tuesday between President Obama and Govenor Mitt Romney, one might expect that Romney’s performance will remain status quo, given his ability, while President Obama is expected to be more aggressive. That said, Obama has to top expectations across the board, and the bar has been set pretty high, perhaps too high. Should the President have to defend his record, with Romney standing opposite, it will be a repeat of the first debate. (Which, in the first debate, is what derailed the President in the first five minutes of the first debate and Romney ran with it.) Should that happen and the final jobs numbers for September be revised upward to 8.2% due to the sudden revelation that a large state was not included in the mix, then this close to an election, with polls as they now stand and a draw with the VP debate for the base, while a win for Ryan with the Independents, one might suggest that Romney will remain in the lead through the finish.
One thing of note: During the debate, the VP referred to the Romney campaign as “not competing in Massachusetts”, which is not necessarily true, given the Campaign headquarters in Boston, and a very high profile Senate Race (Brown-Warren) in the equation. There have been several polls over the past three to four weeks, which focus exclusively on the Presidential race, another taken last night based on the Obama-Romney matchup, including questions for union members, such as: have you been approached by your Union to vote for President Obama, have you been called by a union member about voting for President Obama, do you think Mitt Romney or President Obama has the more negative ads, and so on.
This would suggest, with the focus so heavily leaning towards the President and union members, in Massachusetts, that there is indeed a need to secure the state by the Obama Campaign. The calls were made on the 11th, between 5 and 8 p.m., received at approximately 6:00 pm in Western Massachusetts households. At first neighbors were flattered, simply because no one, ever polls Massachusetts, now they are simply suspicious that there is more going on with the state and the Obama campaign specifically. To be fair, the area in which this is taking place in primarily Independent (or designated Unenrolled), the support and nod are going to Romney/Brown, but further west and north in the Western end of the state which is much less populated, the support should, by logic, be going to Obama. If this is occurring in a scenario similar to the 2009 special election, then the unthinkable may happen – Massachustts would, temporarily and on the surface be a red state. These are big if’s, the biggest being turnout for the Democrats (who can miraculously pull 30,000 votes out of a hat in under 13 hours), and the level of national interest in the Senate race, keeping eyes on the state (which would then make that 30,000 miraculous votes a bit more difficult to achieve –as was the case in the 2009 race for the “people's seat”. Suffice it to say, it may appear that the Romney Campaign may not be competing in Massachusetts (other than the television ads, and some door to doors, and phone calls which may be third party) but the Obama campaign certainly is.